The exhibition of Maria Merian’s Butterflies at the Queen’s Gallery opened after that of the Scottish Artists so we made another trip there. Fortunately the ticket lasts a year so we’ll be able to use it for Portrait of the Artist due to open November 4th.
Maria Sibylla Merian, German artist and entomologist left for Suriname in 1699. There she made detailed drawings and paintings of the flora and fauna. She studied and illustrated the metamorphosis of a variety of caterpillars into butterflies or moths. She said that the Rothschildia moth had wings ‘like a piece of Moscow glass’ and sent some of the strong silk produced by their caterpillars to Amsterdam to encourage their breeding for silk.
This watercolour and bodycolour on vellum was probably arranged from specimens including mildly venomous snakes this adventurous woman brought back from Suriname. It was probably painted by Merian’s daughters.